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Monday, April 21, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oil Service and Analysis

Last Saturday I ran through a quick calculation and realized I was coming up on 4300 miles so I decided it was time for an oil service. I picked up six quarts of 5W-30 at the dealer and completed a mid-cycle oil service on Sunday. I didn't get around to sending the oil kit in for analysis this week so I won't have the data until later in the week but I expect this analysis will give me the information I need to put the lead wear problem to rest and go back to doing analysis every other oil service.

And not a moment too soon since Blackstone just raised their analysis from $22.50 (already the highest in the industry) to $25. I suspect this is a response to lower sales, as preventative maintenance practices are usually the first to go when the bottom line is under attack, but raising prices in a deflationary environment is akin to kicking the customer in the nads when he's down. If it goes up again anytime soon I'm definitely going to look elsewhere for analysis services. They don't have the lock on that market, that's for sure.

Replacement Style 30 Wheel

When I removed the snow tires back in April I set them up along the garage door so I could clean them before I put them away for the season. Unfortunately, I left one of the wheels perched in a precarious spot and accidentally kicked it as I was coming out of the garage. It fell face down into the stone driveway and that managed to put deep gouges in the metal and generally destroy the finish. I was not exactly motivated to deal with the problem at the time so I just stacked the wheels in the garage and walked away.

Unfortunately, the Pilot Sport A/S Plus have not worn nearly as well as the Pilot Sport A/S, which is really saying something since the regular A/S were not exactly known for longevity. The rears have been at the wear bars for the last month or so I need to switch to my snow tire set on schedule at the beginning of November. This implies having the set ready to go by the end of the month so late this week I placed an order with Tischer for a new 16" Style 30 wheel for $210. While I didn't want to spend that money I considered myself lucky when I clicked "submit" on the order because most BMW wheels (even legacy parts) are twice that price.

I also ordered 10 new rubber valve stems, valves, and metal caps for $47 because I can no longer trust my dealer to stock valve stems for these old-school, non run-flat tires. Five of the stems will be used to eventually replace all the stems on the winter set while the other five will replace the trouble-prone metal stems in the CSLs.

The parts should be here later this week, at which point I'll need to have my technician swap them. Had the local independent tire place not trashed the finish on one of my CSL reps earlier this year I would have given them the job and saved a few bucks in the process, but it appears I'll have to pay the dealer $40 to protect the finish of my wheels from now on.

Cluster Odometer LCD Segment Intermittent

A couple months ago I noticed that the right-most two segments of the trip odometer digit display occasionally fail to work. It's a purely cosmetic failure but annoying nonetheless. The only fix for that is a new cluster ($675) plus coding at the dealer.

I'd normally live with such a minor malfunction, but the cluster has had another more annoying characteristic for some time: uneven backlighting on the face of the speedometer and tachometer due to delamination of the gauge overlay. I read an article on one of the forums years ago that explained how to disassemble the cluster and reinstall the overlay using a special 3M adhesive but I never had the time or inclination do that. And it's probably just as well at this point.

I have yet to ask my technician whether it is possible to R&R the cluster and then drive the vehicle so I can do the work myself and drive it to the dealer for coding, but in the event I can't do that I may just do the work myself anyway and put it on a flatbed. Surely that will cost less than book labor at $128/hr, right?

Future Plans

My savings account took quite a beating this year addressing the rear suspension and accessory overhauls so I decided to postone the front suspension overhaul until the spring.

Unless something unexpected comes up I'm done spending money on the vehicle this year. The only thing I may do before winter sets in is replace the glass on both side mirrors due to delamination and a failure of the heating elements. I'm not exactly looking forward to spending in the neighborhood of $55 for each part but like the heated washer nozzles I repaired last winter the mirror heating elements do serve a useful purpose in snowy weather.

Let's just hope we don't have another winter like last year. If that happens I may just move to Florida.

Mileage: 197986, Parts: $55, Parts Saved: $15